Maya Vector Render to Illustrator

From TOI-Pedia


The normal output of the Maya Vector Render engine is a raster image. But it is possible to export the vector data as an Adobe Illustrator file.


The Vector Render plugin for Maya only supports the Maya Base shaders. So you can only use Lambert for diffuse materials and Blinn or Phong for reflective materials. You can't use Mental Ray shaders, such as the MIA material.

Render Settings

Exporting the vector data to Illustrator is done by rendering using the following settings:

Common Tab

If the Maya Vector option is not shown in the pull-down menu of the Render Settings, go to: Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager and make sure the check-boxes for Vectorrender.mll are checked.

Vectorrender common ai format.jpg

  • You can find where Maya will save your AI file at the top of the tab.
  • Set the Image Format to Adobe Illustrator.
  • Make sure you select name.ext (Single Frame) to get the proper filename.
  • Enter a File Name Prefix

If you don't change the File Name Prefix for successive renders, the previous version of the file will be overwritten.

Maya Vector Tab

Note: Using shadows, highlights or reflections will not work for the vector output formats!

If you want to have shadows, read the section Combining bitmap images with Vector images below.

You can render both fills and edges into vector format. Not all Fill options are available when rendering to Vector format. It's recommended to render edges and fills separately for optimal flexibility in Illustrator. You can combine the in Illustrator.

If you've selected the output to be Adobe Illustrator (.ai), but Maya doesn't write and AI file, but instead gives a warning and produces a IFF file, you're probably using a Student version of Maya, which doesn't allow you to save vector formats. Use the educational version available to students of the faculty of Architecture instead.

Opening the file in Illustrator

You will find the Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file in the location displayed at the top of the Common tab of the Render Settings. You can open that file directly using Illustrator, but it's recommended to copy it to another location (outside the Maya Project path) first.

You can copy-paste the vector data from this AI file into any Illustrator File. The vector data is stored into a compound path. You may want to separate it into single objects. This can be achieved by selecting the Compound Path; the easiest way to do this is in your layer manager. Then RMB click on the compound path object and choose Release Compound Path.

Combining bitmap images with vector images

Rendering to vector format doesn't support shadows, reflections etc. If you want shadows, highlights or reflections, you need to use a bitmap format. You can open bitmaps in Illustrator and place vector data on top of it in another layer. In this way you can combine the flexibility and quality of vector data and the effects and realism offered by bitmaps. Combining Mental Ray renders and Vector data can yield great results.

Use View > Smart Guides to scale your vector objects to the same size as your bitmap image and to place the vector on the exact same location as the bitmap image.

Vector mental examples.jpg

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